The Blending of Atoms and Bits: MS's HoloLens

Microsoft HoloLens. Credit: Microsoft

Last month, January 2015, Microsoft has announced HoloLens, as part of the holographic capabilities supported by Windows 10. You can take a look at the two video clips here, the first providing a suggestion on what our life might be like once we don the HoloLens, the second explaining the technology (with an MS presenter that is mimicking Steve Jobs, and that gave me the creeps...).

If it delivers what it is promising it is impressive (although no price, battery duration, nor shipping date was announced).

The HoloLens, as you can see in the photo, looks like sun glasses, just a big bigger. They embed a camera for picking up the surrounding, a set of two screens to create the holographic vision, a sound surround and the processing power needed to make it work (in particular for creating the 3D holographic rendering). The software picks up the camera images and can identify objects, and your hand and fingers motion so that gesture and voice recognition are the primary way to interact with HoloLens.

So for the time being let's take them for what MS is declaring. As I said, from a technical point of view they are amazing. The services they promise to make available are right into the "Matrix" league, just look at the second video. And there can be many more, starting with the obvious replacement of normal glasses to provide even better customised vision or help to hearing impaired. The open interface and API plus the Windows 10 support should guarantee a deluge of third parties applications.

Yet, from a usability point of view I have my doubt. In a way the technical performance (on paper) is way better than the Google Glass but they are surely more "invasive". And Google Glass didn't manage to win the marketplace, at least so far.

I can surely see myself wearing them and having fun in exploring a city or getting immerse into a 3D book but I can't imagine wearing them for the most part of my day, actually becoming part of my life as my cell phone has became. True, back in the 80ies I would not have imagined going back home to pick up the cell phone I forgot...

Author - Roberto Saracco

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